On A New Year

Flying Home

Most years, around the new year I find myself reflecting on the past year. But, rarely, do I think too much about the year to come, or make resolutions. The new year has, at least for the past several years, never really felt like a clean slate, or a new beginning, just a continuation. But this year is different. This year, we get married. And while married life for us isn’t likely to look any different, it is a significant step, and a concession to the fact that we might actually be adults (sort of?). More than that, I have no immediate plans for myself. A large part of that is because living abroad is far more complicated, and because it feels so impermanent: 10 months-2.5 years, depending on if/when they kick me out, so it’s hard to mentally dive into anything.  There are a lot of unknowns right now, which of course is simultaneously exciting and frightening. So for the first January in a long time I’ve been thinking a lot about what this year will mean. We landed back in Dublin after three weeks in Ethiopia, three weeks I didn’t know I needed. It felt so good to get away, to have an adventure, to feel a little bit more alive than usual. It reminded me why I love travel so much, in the way that short breaks don’t. I feared I had lost a bit of my wanderlust, but I haven’t, it’s there, as strong as ever. I still don’t know what I want to do with my life, but travel has been my constant. So has writing. My interests change often, but not those two (and probably cooking as well), so it was reassuring to know I hadn’t lost the love of something so dear to me. But when we came back, once the intrigue of a home refreshed wore off, I began to think what I wanted out of this year, aside, of course from getting married. Because getting married is just a day, and while it’s a very important day it has little to do with my everyday life. On the other side of it, things will be just as they are now. So, if I were to make a new year’s resolution, what would it be?

Probably, to be more honest.

Not in the, I tend to be untruthful to others sense. But honest to myself, honest in my writing, less fearful of what people might think or how they might react. If you’ve been following any of the trending topics related to feminism lately one of the hot-button topics has been how hard of a place the internet is for women (a must read here). Even more so, if those women talk about anything in their lives being good. And it is so true, how carefully we must tread to downplay the joys and triumphs in our lives, and how men don’t (another excellent read here). To be able to say “my life is good” without retaliation or anger directed at us seems like it should be common sense. Then again, so is gender equality. But there it is, in the back of our minds that we cannot say the good, the moments of success, or just joy without downplaying it somehow with the ubiquitous “but.” I won’t reiterate what these fabulous women have written, instead, I’d urge you to read those articles. But I will say I’m guilty of it. I’m guilty of, well, guilt. Because while my life certainly has its ups and downs, and I have plenty of moments of uncertainty and fear, the truth is my life is good. My life is happy. My life isn’t what I expected, it is better. I am blessed in more ways than I can count. One of my greatest blessings is choice, I get to choose what my life looks like, and while what the future looks like is still a thick haze, right now it’s a lot of writing, reading, traveling, cooking, spending time with loved ones, learning, and working towards personal and professional goals.

When I thought about what I wanted out of this year, one goal was to focus on my writing. So I’m taking a writing course, I’m going to write (and read) more often, and most importantly, write more honestly. Of good, of bad, of how I view the world and my experiences, to try to put myself out there to experience more. And that scares me, but of course, the best writing is honest. And then, follow that with a big helping of not feeling guilty for the good in my life, and to stop qualifying it. And of course, stay grateful for the good.

A large part of my personal growth in the past year has come from delving into communities that focus on feminism, something I embarrassingly, shied away from in the past. But these incredible women have helped me understand and articulate my own feelings about being a woman in our society. It’s helped me understand myself more. It’s taught me so much, a lot of which, was hard to accept. Especially realizing I held false ideals, and in some ways helped perpetuate the problems. But I am better for it. So much better. And this, combined with an interest in women’s health, and the onslaught of the wedding industry (and all the pressure and archaic patriarchy that comes with it) has my focus shifted. I don’t know how this will influence my writing, especially related to travel, but it’s become forefront in my mind lately, so I’m interested to see where it takes me.

So that’s it, that is my one new years resolution-to be honest, and accepting with myself, my writing, my goals, my life. It’s a pretty lofty goal, I suppose. But I’m excited to see where it leads, and hopefully at the end I’ll be a better writer, and perhaps even be bold enough to push my writing into a more professional setting. So, on to a new year! Or, well, the rest of it since we’re already eleven days in.

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